Nationalists cannot join proposed police force - Adams
Gerry Adams says that Sinn Féin will be stepping up its campaign to win a proper policing service. The Sinn Féin President spoke to the Irish and British governments and US President Clinton on the issue at the weekend.
Adams said the main focus, in Ireland and abroad, about the British legislation dealing with the Patten report into policing has been on the concessions which appear to have been given by the British government to the Ulster Unionist Party.
Adams said that this tended to distract from, or disguise, the amount of damage done to the goal of a new policing service by those within the British system, who have a much more strategic view than unionist politicians and who have been permitted by the British government to emasculate the Patten recommendations.
``I am referring to the RUC insiders, to the securocrats, and to the NIO officials who have succeeded, at this stage, in subverting the establishment of a civic policing service. They are obviously intent on preventing democratic accountability or real influence from the community on policing.
``All of their amendments of the Patten recommendations are about stopping nationalists or republicans from having real influence at policy level or of having real power with an accountable system. The amendments to Patten are about making sure that the police are not accountable to us.
``Patten was about everyone taking ownership of a depoliticised civic police service. So the task of saving the Paten report will not only be around keeping the RUC name out of any future policing service. It will need much more than that.
``I have sent the British Prime Minister details of almost 40 areas where the British legislation published two weeks ago departs from the Patten recommendations. There are other areas which do not require legislation but which need implementation also.
``Sinn Féin will stepping up our vigorous campaign to bring about a new policing service. This will include lobbying both the British and Irish governments, intensive campaigning on this issue and seeking international support, not least here in the USA, for the creation of a new policing service.
``One thing is certain at this time. No republican or nationalist could join or support the police force envisaged in the current British legislation.''
Labour MPs challenge Blair on policing
Moves to force the Tony Blair and Peter Mandelson to rethink their proposed legislation on policing in the Six Counties will be made by a group of prominent Labour backbench MPs when the Bill is debated in the House of Commons next week.
The `Reasoned Amendment', which if passed, would force the government back to the `drawing-board' on its Bill, has been tabled by senior Labour Backbencher, and former Shadow Six-County Direct Ruler Kevin McNamara MP.
The Amendment has already received the support of the Westminster pressure group the Friends of Ireland.
When the Bill was published, McNamara described it as ``a fiasco'' and criticised the British government for allowing the issue of policing to be made into a `political football' by unionists in recent negotiations to kick-start the Executive.
Commenting on his Reasoned Amendment, McNamara said: ``There is growing anger at Westminster that the Bill has failed to produce the imaginative blueprint for policing envisaged in the Patten Report. In its current form, the Bill is unacceptable and we will decline from giving it support at Second Reading.''
Detailing his particular concerns at the Bill, McNamara said: ``In its current form, the Bill cannot lead to the creation of a police service capable of attracting and sustaining support from the community as a whole.
``The Bill does not contain measures to recognise the full and equal legitimacy and worth of the identities, senses of allegiance and ethos of all sections of the community in Northern Ireland.
``The Bill does not give adequate recognition to the role of human rights protection in informing the ethos of the new police service.
``By watering-down of the role and powers of the Policing Board and weakening the Policing Ombudsman, the Bill fails to create the structures for democratic accountability.
``The current Bill fails on all counts. The government needs to return to the drawing board on their proposed legislation, and produce a Bill that reflects the implementation of all the recommendations of the Patten Report. That is the only acceptable and sensible way of proceeding on policing in Northern Ireland. Anything short of that will not command cross-community support and should not be supported in the House of Commons.''
Commenting on the failure of the Police Bill in its current form to deliver the necessary inclusivity and confidence of nationalists in the Six Counties, McNamara said: ``The proposals on policing must recognise the new deal for equality and give the poorest communities a say. They must reach out to those who in the past have suffered from the shortcomings of poor policing. These people are understandably the most hostile to the RUC and its traditions. The Police Bill fails to set out new objectives for policing; it provides no transition to the police service of the future. It needs to be completely re-thought.''
North Belfast Sinn Féin MLA Gerry Kelly is in London today, Thursday, 1 June to outline Sinn Féin's campaign in relation to the Policing Bill and will be updating a number of embassies on the issue.